By Michael Hill
Brandon Marrazzo’s test-prepping with a tutor has built up his confidence for the math section of the new SAT on March 5.
“I like it a lot better than the old SAT,” he said. Why? “I find it easier.”
But, Brandon’s tutor says other high school juniors will need more than confidence for the college admissions exam.
“A lot of students are going to have trouble with the non-calculator math part,” said Rick Sarkisian, tutor with Tutor Doctor of New Jersey.
The College Board has changed the SAT for the first time since 2005. It says it redesigned the SAT to better reflect what New Jersey students are already learning in class and to focus on the few things that matter most for college and career readiness. But others say it’s basing the SAT more on Common Core learning and less on tricks and acing prep testing.
“I would say from a structural perspective it is becoming a lot more similar to the ACT,” said C2 Education CEO David Kim.
Another difference — the essay section, required in the old test — is optional in the new. The old gave testers 25 minutes. The new doubles that. The old required writing a persuasive argument. The new requires an analytical approach.
At Montville High School, some students are opting not to take the SAT, saying it’s too much of a gamble with their academic future.
“For me to only take the SAT and send it to a college, they’re not going to have the national curves all figured out yet. They may not know specifically what’s a good score, what’s a bad score,” said junior Alexander Benno.
“Because I feel like it’s kind of pointless at this point because I did do well on the old SAT,” said junior Cassandra Gologorsky.
Classmate Evan Chan is taking both the ACT and the SAT without spending hours of preparing for either.
“I’m not really worrying about it too much because it’s just a test,” he said.
One high school is recommending the ACT only because of the next SAT’s unknowns.
“We just figured it made sense to give the students, college board, colleges, the parents some time to look at the data,” said Kelly Peterfriend, President of the Bergen County School Counselors Association.
“You have a lot of test prep providers kind of preying on that anxiety,” Kim said.
Jessica Bush, founder and owner of Tutor Doctor of New Jersey says it takes the anxiety out through diagnostic testing.
“It’s a little mini ACT and a little mini SAT. It’s questions from both and we can score it and we can assess which test is better for them,” she said.
When asked if she’s helping them avoid the pitfalls, Bush said, “The pitfalls as well as the stress of taking both tests.”
Leslee Scheckman says she’s advised students to take the test they think is best for them based on research for college, careers and peace of mind.
“Just breathe, breathe, breath, mediate, do yoga, do whatever you have to do, but know that you are not your test score and you are not your GPA,” she said.